Kate Tempest

So if everyone could ignore this huge gap in the posts on my blog, that’d be great. The condensed version is that last semester at uni I had a lethal mix of laziness, too many gigs and the stress of trying to write a number of essays and papers. Well, it wasn’t so much the stress of writing them, more the stress of trying to find things to do (and countries to go to) instead of doing them. Procrastinating is hard work guys.

Ok, so the next lot of reviews are going to be horrifically out of date, however, I’ll write about how the gig was, and the artist in general. Though I’m sure you don’t mind reading these things well out of date. I’m not sure what the half-life is on these kind of blogs.

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Now all that admin is done, on to Kate Tempest. So I’ve known about Tempest for a couple of years now, after I became a fan of Scroobius Pip. I first knew her as a spoken word poet, however she is a prolific playwright as well, and is about to release her third book.

Kate Tempest is really something when it comes to lyrics and performance. She has been influenced by ancient mythology, this is evident in one of her songs Icarus and in her first book, ‘Brand New Ancients’. Tempest has also written and performed a poem called  Tiresias, about the myth of Tiresias (surprisingly). [WARNING: LINGUISTIC DIVERSION UP AHEAD] For any linguistic nerds out there, it is also interesting to note that Icarus was written in dactycal hexameters. The ‘dactyl’ part refers to the pattern ‘TUM-te-ty’ essentially, the syllables for the pattern ‘stressed-unstressed-unstressed’. The hexameter part refers the amount of syllables per line (in this case…six). This was a common in epic classical poetry written in Latin and Greek. I just think that it’s really cool that she has written a poem in dactycal hexameters, which aren’t used much at all in poetry and spoken word nowadays.  Ok, people who hate linguistics  can tune back in now.

Tempest has played at Bestival for a number of years, and every time I see her (whether it’s at Bestival or any other of her gigs) I get chills when she speaks. She has this passion and power in her voice that is hard to come by. She makes you want to get up and do something with your life, to experience life in the fullest way possible. Tempest blends flawlessly elements of spoken word, rap, poetry and theater to create beautiful pieces that create characters so solid you can almost touch them. This, combined with her strong East London accent makes for stunning pieces that are so different from anything anyone else is doing. All this is helped of course by the fact her work is littered with amazing lines riddled deep in meaning, such as:

‘And the days are all dust
and the only thing worse
than losing the trust
of a lover is finding the rust
in their kiss.’

Which can be found in Hold Your Own, Tempest’s first book released back in 2014 – and can be found relatively cheaply from wordery.com. She is about to release another book called The Bricks That Built The Houses which you should definitely buy, like everything she does it’s going to amazing.

Kate Tempest is actually about to go on tour for her upcoming book, starting in London in April, and stopping off around the UK until she flies stateside to tour in America, so for any Americans reading, this would be a chance to see one of the UKs most prolific and talented writers, an opportunity that should not be passed up. The dates and tickets for the tour can be found here.

It’s hard to use words as eloquently and as effortlessly as Tempest does to do her any justice, my recommendation is to pick up one of her books, see her live, and blab on about how amazing this woman is to anyone who will listen. Much like I’m doing.

Anywho, her are some photos of Kate Tempest at Bestival in September last year.

 

 

 

 

 

QUEEN + Adam Lambert

When I was told we were going to see Queen, I was pretty excited. As I imagine most people would be. When I was told that it was at the O2, I was a little bit hesitant. I may be in the minority, but often I feel that big arenas ruin music. I know they almost always ruin comedy (except this guy, he thrives in big arenas). Big outdoor arenas are different. Being at a festival is nothing like being in the O2, the vibe is completely different, often people have had at least a day of live music already and are brimming with sex drugs and rock and roll. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Ok, so enough negativity. Let’s get on with an actual review of the show. We arrived early, and our three hours of queuing paid off, as we got a nice position at the end of the catwalk (which, for some reason was a weird bendy shape). Queen had no support act, which was actually a nice change. I mean, I like the idea of support acts, and often it gives you a chance to see some talented people – like these guys who toured with Paolo Nutini for a bit. But now and again, it is just nice to turn up and see the band you’ve paid to see.

It’s at this point I’ll mention that I’ve actually seen these guys before (unfortunately, still without Freddie – and though he died before I was born, so for me to see them with him would mean some serious wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff). I saw Queen with Adam Lambert at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2011, which was, if I’m not mistaken, their first tour together. Hence the smaller arena. the Hammersmith holds around 5000 max, contrasting with the 20,000 that can be squeezed into the O2.

The band ‘Queen + Adam Lambert’ consists of Brian May and Roger Taylor, the original guitarist and drummer respectively. Taylor’s son Rufus on drums, Spike Edney on keys, and Neil Fairclough on bass. Edney has been referred to as the ‘fifth member of Queen’ due to his extensive work with the band, which is pretty cool, because it means the only members the band are really missing are John Deacon and the one and only, Freddie Mercury.

It’s no secret that Adam Lambert has big boots to fill, being the new front man of Queen. I said this the first time I saw them, and my feelings where solidified on seeing them again, he’s not a replacement for Freddie. Yes, he’s doing Freddie’s job, yes, he’s doing it well, but in no way does it feel like he’s replacing him.

While on stage, all members are given a moment in the spotlight. During the show Lambert left for a couple of songs, which gave the rest of the band to move their equipment to the end of the catwalk, and do a couple of songs together, which almost had an acoustic feel to it, which gave a new dimension to the evening. Roger and Rufus had a drum battle, and then there was a bass battle, which, instead of being torturous and boring as drum solos often are, was actually good to listen to. The whole band left the stage at the start of Bohemian Rhapsody and let a recording of Freddie sing it on one of the big screens, which I thought was very touching. They also played some of Freddie’s vocals behind Brian May as he was singing Love of My Life.

Side note, I’d never really realised how much other band members are effected when a member dies. I mean, thankfully, all the modern bands I like have never lost a member, and all the older bands lost their members before I was even born, so it had always been the status quo that Freddie, Strummer, Lennon  and Kobain were dead. But when I saw Brian May do a solo acoustic set in the middle of the Queen + Lambert gig in 2011, it hit me how much it would effect the rest of a band. You live with them while you’re on the road, you socialise with them, you open yourself up to them artistically, they get to see you at your worst and your best. Losing someone like that has got to hit you hard. He played The Show Must Go On, it was surprisingly emotional.

Anyway, back to the gig. Though Lambert left for a couple of songs he in no way was shy of the spot light. For Killer Queen he had a chaise longue brought to the end of the catwalk and sung the song while lying on it, which was a great touch.

At the end of the day, the set the played was fantastic, they honored Mercury, and gave every member a chance to shine – and oh, how they shone. They even manged to hype up the crowd, which isn’t an easy task when there’s 6 of you 20,000 of them, it’s your second night at that arena AND it’s a Sunday. So I’m glad I went, and would whole heartedily reccomend you go and see them before you die (or they do, for that matter).

Here are some photos.

Some Bad Photos

I’m now quite behind on this blog, but I don’t think anyone’s reading, so that’s ok. And if you are reading, you probably don’t know my calender, so I’ll pretend this is a recent gig. One better, I’ll pretend this is a gig from the future.

In the future, I will go to Scroobius Pip’s tour at the Nest in London.

Ok, let’s not do that. On with the actual review/whatever the hell this blog is.

The venue was fine, not the best one I’ve been to. Ok,  I’ve only been to one gig there, and I have a feeling the atmosphere is a lot better if it’s packed out. Unfortunately, though there were people, it wasn’t teeming, which was a shame. The gig I went to was an extra date, added ‘cos the first one sold out.

The gig itself was fine, but not the best Pip gig I’ve been to. Though, that was the 24th time I’ve seen Pip, so ya’know. It was pretty cool, because it wasn’t really a Pip show, it was a Speech Development Records tour, (Pip’s label). So there were loads of guests, and Pip was essentially just hosting.

The first guest was PolarBear, an amazing spoken word artist, from Birmingham. What I love about his work, as well as the content, is the delivery. Polarbear’s inspiration seems to come from a lot of hip-hop, and when he speaks, you can hear the rhythm echo those hip-hop roots. This melded with intricate and personal lyrics, and a distinctive brummie accent, you have one spine-tingling poet.

Warrenpeace were the next act. Made up of hip-hop producer and DJ, Buddy Peace, and guitarist/producer/genral cool guy Warren Borg, or as he’s often known, ‘Worgie’. Over the summer these guys released their single ‘Hungry‘ (and I was totally in the video, but that’s beside the point (it’s really not)), and then dropped their album later in the year. Their music is dirty, guitar-y, and kinda heavy. A good band to see live.

The ‘headliner’ in this talented, musical event thing, was a guy called B.Dolan. B is known primarily as a rapper/spoken word artist. His music deals with a range of subjects, from the death of Russell Jones (Ol’ Dirty Bastrd, one of the founding members of the Wu Tang Clan) to Agoraphobia, to police brutality. The last one brings us onto one of B’s other passions. He’s also an activist, and co-founder the site knowmore.org, a site that tells consumers social responsibility information about corporations. He is passionate about a range of issues, and was recently interviewed by Russell Brand on the ‘Trews‘. This episode is well worth a watch even if you’re not a fan of Brand.

The evening itself was pretty good, as mentioned above, it wasn’t my favorite Pip-esque night, but it was fun. I do have a bit of a confession about the photos though. This gig was almost straight after Billy Idol, where I managed to get some pretty decent photos, thanks to the brilliant lighting. However, one thing The Nest doesn’t have is great lights. They essentially had two small red lights, one ultra violet light, and a blue light *shudders*. So, all the photos came out terrible. This is why I’ve uploaded a compilation of photos of the bands mentioned above from other events – most of the photos are from Pip and Polarbear’s (and Kate Tempest) spoken word set at Camp Bestival, the others are from Bestival and Pip’s solo album tour in 2011. Hope you enjoy ’em.

Tim Minchin – Koko

Ok, so let’s start with an old gig, from about a year ago. (Hopefully I’ll get more recent gigs up, this is just a test drive, as it were)

Tim Minchin announced he was doing the Camden gig only two weeks before it happened, which isn’t that long. It was announced at the beginning of December, and the gig was set for the 19th. Nearing Christmas, I was scraping the barrel for money, however, it’s so rare that Tim does gigs in the UK now, especially solo shows, that I thought it would be worth it.

And was it? Of course. However, I’m a huge fan, so there is a little bias here.

For those that have never been to Koko I urge you to go. I know it’s  NME’s venue of choice, and it is therefore often filled with wannabe hipsters who are all into a blend of electro-synth-indie-hop that is too cool to dance to. Looking beyond this, if there’s a band you like playing there I recommend you go. It used to be a theater, and is still decked out like one. There is a fantastic feeling of highbrow theater still clinging to the red velvet upholstery, along with the smell of beer and teenage sweat.

The support act were a duo called Bitter Ruin. Two singers Georgia Train and Ben Richards. They came on stage, leaning heavily on blue and purple lighting (which I hate, as my bridge cannot handle blue light, at all) which always  gives the impression of a small band at a small venue. The performance itself was very good. Train has a fantastic voice, and Richards can effortlessly harmonise with it.

The main act itself, Mr.Minchin, was brilliant. It could have been a disappointment to anyone expecting a night of stand up comedy with a few funny songs thrown in. The night’s proceeds went to Medicins Sans Frontieres, which is a fantastic cause. Tim did a mix of songs, dipping into a couple of hits that his comedy fans would at least know, which included  Cheese and Woody Allen Jesus. The rest of his set was less based on comedy, and he put a strong focus on his gentler and more emotional songs, such as Drowned, Beauty and a brand new song ‘seeing you for the first time’.

There was an element of self indulgence, and though he did interact with the audience he also broke off to talk to his wife who was apparently watching from one of the VIP boxes left over from the theater days. To be fair to them both, Tim mentioned that this was his last gig in the UK for a while, as the family were moving back to Aus, so we can’t be too harsh on them.

The gig was wonderful, all the covers were brilliantly done, ‘Waterloo Sunset’ was fantastic, and Tim roped Georgia from Bitter Ruin to do Hallelujah with him for his second encore, which was good, although not my favorite version of the song by a long way. His cover ‘feel like going home‘ and his version of ‘when I grow up‘ (from the Matilda musical he scored) were -and still are – favorites of mine.

I will be quiet now. Too much talking. Here are some (hopefully pretty) pictures.

Enjoy.